Wood & train

A cracking shot sent to me by Trevor Shakespeare showing a Class 25 loco (number D5223, later 25073) at Walsall Wood station in about 1964. The loco is facing towards Aldridge near the Lichfield Road bridge, on a train of 16-ton mineral wagons. The Aldridge - Walsall Wood branch closed to passengers in 1930 and the line became a freight-only branch, being singled and terminated at the colliery just north of Walsall Wood station (the line formerly ran to Brownhills Watling Street station and on to Chasewater). The branch closed completely shortly after January 1965, so this may have been one of the very last trains to use the branch.

Image of D5232 locomotive trundling through Walsall Wood – a remarkable image kindly supplied by Trevor Shakespeare

Sorry folks, I’ve been very busy again this week and what with the constant news posts of late I’m getting terribly behind. My apologies to people waiting for stories to go up but I really am having trouble fitting things in at the moment. Hopefully the rush will ease off soon.

In the last week, the above remarkable image came to light via David Evans’ old school friend Trevor Shakespeare, who still lives in the Wood and attended David’s recent talk at Walsall Wood library.Following this, Trevor offered to look for some old photos.

Trevor wrote to David:

Hi there David. We came to your talk on Walsall Wood earlier in the year and I promised to look through the old photos that I have. Although I was born and  brought up in Brookland Road, both my parents families came from Norton Canes.

 Almost every photo seems to be typical family snapshots, rather than views of  the Walsall Wood area.

 The only one which may be of interest is attached. It shows a diesel locomotive on a train assumed to be revesing towards Walsall Wood colliery (as the wagons are empty). Towards the end of the life of the branch it was operated as a long siding. This photo has been seen as part of a discussion as  to if diesels ever operated on the branch. The loco number is possibly D5232.

When originally shown someone did figure it out as apparently these locos have different grill patterns on the sides. From my trainspotting books of the era,I don’t think that this machine was service until very late 1963, so the photo could be Spring 1964.

The background to the photo shows the old pumping shed next to the railway, and the Co-op building still appears to be in use. From the angle of the shadow I think I took the photo early afternoon time and Spring time as there does not appear to be leaves on the trees.

Hope this is of use, but if you want any further info, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best Regards.
Trevor Shakespeare (now just about at the edge of The Cape)

If you’re having trouble placing the image, I think the photographer is stood in Brook Lane, on the land opposite where the old Scout Hut used to be.

David shared this image with Godfrey ‘Oakparkrunner’ Hucker, who asked Ian Pell’s opinion. Ian replied:

Hi Godfrey

Thanks for the email. I believe I have a copy of the photo is question (copy attached) and it does indeed show D5232 reversing towards the colliery with  empty coal wagons.

D5232 for the record was first allocated to Toton in November 1963 before moving to Saltley (2E) in April 1964. I would therefore suggest that the photo was taken Spring/early summer 1964 . Interestingly the headcode of 4M79 was that of an ex-ER to Washwood Heath Sidings working.

The locomotive was indeed part of a second batch and was noticeable by the grill pattern as correctly pointed out.

Local trip freight Target T64 was the only regular working on the line at this time and was booked for a class “25”. By July 1964 it was scheduled to arrive at Walsall Wood Colliery at 13.30 and depart at 14.40 for its next siop on the branch at Aldridge Brixancole.

Kindest regards

So yet again, a remarkable image comes to light, and Ian Pell uses his great expertise to explain it fully. A wonderful addition to the local history record.

Thanks to everyone involved – David, Godfrey, Ian and especially to Trevor for taking time to share an image of Walsall Wood from quite a rare time and angle!


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19 Responses to Wood & train


    When I took the photo I was probably standing at the top of the railway embankment just inside the railway fence. There is no sign of the fence close to that position on the negative, so I assume that it was behind me. In those days the land between the railway and Brook Lane was owned by a builder (Lydall), who built the bungalow Brook Lane on the railway. Brook Lane was unpaved and the brook was open up to the junction with Laburnum Road. The building behind me was the St. Johns Church Hall in those days, not a scout hut and the area is now a block of flats.
    Regards Trev.

    • Cheers Trev.

      Interestingly, I never knew it as the Church Hall, in my youth it was called the scout hut. Is this a real thing, or am I suffering recovered memory?

      Cheers for a wonderful image. Bet that train sounded great. I used to lie in bet and listen to the diesels rumbling through a Brownhills night and I miss it to this day.



        Hi Bob, It was always the Church Hall, with Sunday schools, the W.I. and such like meeting there when I lived in that area. It was brick built with a stage and kitchen area. School plays and Christmas parties were held there. Trev.

  2. Christine says:

    Around 1957 I went with a friend just once to Brownies. My children went to play school there and also Brownies/Guides and Cubs. The play school was run by Barbara Burgess and the Brownies/Cubs etc was run by Pauline Oughton and her husband, can’t remember his name.

  3. Gordon Hopkinson says:

    Hello, I find this fascinating. I was a fireman at Saltley in the 60’s and even as late as November 1965 I fired a steam loco (class 4F 44057) up and down this branch. It was indeed 64 trip and in the link I was in we had the afternoon turn. Travelling as passenger to Sutton Coldfield, walking to Sutton Park and relieving the morning crew. Then going light engine to Aldridge to shunt and do whatever was required of us. On the 9th and 10th of November 1965, we (Driver Fred Cook and me) worked to Walsall Wood, on the way down we shunted the BICC sidings, taking out loaded wagons for the West Coast Electrification Project. On the 11th we only did the BICC sidings. On the 12th we were given a huge diesel, a class 47, and because of that, we did not proceed down the branch as class 25’s were the largest allowed. My wife and I now live in Alberta, Canada after emigrating here from Heath Hayes, so Brownhills Bob is a blog I love to follow.

    • Ian Pell says:

      Hi folk
      Couple of things.
      1. Question for Gordon – did you ever work the Washwood Heath – Norton Junction trains. I believe these were coal trains for Nechells Power Station?
      2. To all the Walsall Wood followers I wonder if anyone remembers a butcher’s shop on the Walsall bound side of Lichfield Road just before the canal bridge. I am especially interested if there are any photos of it, especially in the mid-fifties. I think it was later sold on to another butcher.
      Kind regards

      • David Evans says:

        was this Cherry’s butchers?
        kind regards

        • Ian says:

          Hi David
          Not sure. All I know is the location and that my father Ernest Pell operated a butcher’s shop in the area. This was some time after the early 1950’s until about early 1960’s.


          • david oakley says:

            Hi Bob,
            There were four butchers in the High Street, between the 30’s and the early 50’s. Beak’s, taken over by Winkle’s and later by Greensill’s, near the bus stop. Grant’s, by Smith’s the bakers, and Cherry’s and Felton’s, towards the canal bridge. The latter shops were adjacent, but seemed to exist in perfect harmony, probably because one was a ‘pork butcher’. Can’t remember which one.

            • William (Bill) Blakemore says:

              Hello David, the image of the two butchers shops and their respective location astride the archway is correct. One was my grandfather William Cherry (beef) on the left as you look at the photo and the other was Bert Felton (pork). The slaughter house is also correct, I remember as a small boy witnessing a bullock being pole axed there, not a nice sight. Later on and for many years, one of his daughters and my aunt, Winifred Williams, had the shop that was to the left of Trevor’s (again as you look at the image) which did I’m told at some point become part of the Hawthorn pub. That is actually a sort of circle because Bill Cherry’s mother kept the pub about 100 years ago and my mother (another daughter) used to recall him saying that he was “just popping to see mother”, he was very dutiful in his visits!.
              Regards, Bill Blakemore

          • David Evans says:

            Possibly in Willows Road Shelfield..corner block of shops believed to have had a butchers shop
            Source….local lady who lived near there at that time..1950-1968
            Kind regards

      • Gordon Hopkinson says:

        Hi Ian, I never worked from Washwood Heath to Norton Junc., that would have involved a reversal, either at Walsall or Wychnor. I believe nearly all the trains that worked into Norton Junc came from either Bescot or Burton on Trent. I started at Saltley in 1962 and only ever saw Norton Junc when passing by with our diagrammed workings which, I’m pretty sure, did not include coal trains. I recall working coal trains as specials from Water Orton to Ocker Hill Power Station with steam, again 4F 0-6-0’s, the coal coming from the Kingsbury area coalfields. I’m guessing that the coal for Nechells would come via Bescot as the spur to the power station was off the Aston to Stechford line. Thank you for your question.
        Kind regards,

  4. David Evans says:

    Cheers Gordon!
    many thanks for your comments
    kind regards

  5. davidoakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    Thoroughly enjoyed your picture, Trevor. What a wonderful snapshot of an area of Walsall Wood, so well remembered after so many years. Never a train buff, myself, but remember , as a child, racing to Brookland Road bridge when the steam trains were operating , running from one side of the bridge to the other, in order to cover myself in the warm, coal-based steam, floating upwards.
    I remember the Co-op, with the iron staircase at the side, leading to the Co-op Hall above the shop. Wedding receptions and other social occasions were celebrated in this upper building, but the main event was the twice-yearly Dividend payout. Then could be witnessed by the throng on the staircase, some going in, others coming out. Dividends were quite generous, and regular Co-op customers came away with payments which could often augment family finances for several weeks.
    Next door, the familiar contours of the Public Conveniences came into view, and two houses set slightly off the main thoroughfare. Postman Bates lived in one, an elderly WW 1 veteran who rode his red Post Office bike in all weathers, and whose Son Bill Bates later became Scoutmaster of 2nd Brownhills Scouts.
    Over the road, on the right-hand side, the first building was the House of Prayer chapel, the field between the chapel and the railway drive was undeveloped. It is still possible to see intermittent white spots on the photo, this was a biblical text, written on the closeboard fence, in letters about 12 inches high, saying “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37 v 4 ). On the corner of Coppice Road, facing Lichfield Road was a huge advertisement hoarding, visible on the photo. It was a delight to be there when the advert was replaced, watching the man take out the new advert, in about four pieces of paper, expertly glue then on, even in a high wind, and be the first to witness the little man, carrying a huge girder, quite effortlessly, under the legend ‘Guinness is good for you’
    The Church Hall, standing behind Trevor was a place of mystery and grown-ups, until the start of the war, I entered it for the first time to be fitted for a gas mask. Three different kinds were issued, a respirator for small babies, in which the baby was placed, and air was applied by a hand pump. Most babies would cry when placed in this frightening receptacle, with the mother saying, “ E ay gooin’ in theer’ Luckily, it never came to that. Then came the ‘Mickey Mouse’ painted blue and red for children below five, then the traditional gas mask, labelled small, medium and large, for the rest of the population. The fitting was, if you could breathe in, with the mask on, support a small piece of card on the nozzle, it was okay. Later I became a regular visitor to the Church Hall for concerts, many put on the Primitive Methodist Concert Group, of which the parents of ‘young David Evans’ were vigorous and talented members. Later, the weekly dance, with the Melochord Dance Band, how those old floorboards put up with the thumping strain of the ‘Palais Glide’, I shall never know.

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    A big thankyou to our own wonderful Yorkshire correspondent…..your blog article “Let us entertain you ” shows the concert party. I wonder if your readers have photos of the Melochord dance band…piano accordian group, I believe, who also played at the Memorial Hall.
    Kind regards

  7. aerreg says:

    hi mr oakley re the melocord a regular at the memorial hall with harry broadway on the drums may charles on the piano correct me if ime wrong millitary two step velita st bernards waltz gay gordens barn dance spot waltz and on sal griptons night the grand march lancers mc for the night jack seedhouse ore teddy boulton refreshments lil perry cakes from hartshorne chasetown eclaires and cream puffs strictly eat your heart out finaly a rhumba was carma maranda thanks for the memory god bless

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